India’s singles player HS Prannoy and men’s doubles team of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty reached their respective quarter-finals at the BWF World Championships in Copenhagen on Thursday.
Lakshya Sen and the women’s doubles pair of Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand bowed out in the third round.
Playing against the 2021 World Champion Loh Kean Yew, Prannoy took his time to find his rhythm in the first game as he went into the mid-game break trailing 11-8. After the break, Prannoy slowly started constructing good points to take the lead at 19-16 before closing out the first game 21-18.
The Singaporean took the initiative early in the second game, racing to a 13-8 lead. Prannoy won five points on the trot to draw level. This time, however, Loh was not going to give Prannoy a toe-hold in the game as he stitched up back-to-back points to take the game 21-15 and force a decider.
Prannoy got off to flyer in the final game taking an 11-4 lead. However, the change of end gave Loh the advantage and he won six points to close down on Prannoy. The Indian extended his lead at 14-10 only for Loh to win six back-to-back points once again to lead in the decider for the first time.
The Singaporean was using his smash to devastating effect with Prannoy stretching every sinew to try and get them back. Both players celebrated every point wildly and loudly as the match became a test of mental strength.
Trailing 16-17, Prannoy won three points to be two points away from a place in the quarter-finals only for Loh to fight back to tie the game. Facing a match point, Loh took a gamble by playing a deep shot late only to net it.
Prannoy let out a roar even as Loh sunk to his knees in despair. The Indian will next face world No 1 Viktor Axelsen.
After an equal start to the match against Indonesia’s Leo Carnando and Daniel Marthin, second seeds Rankireddy and Shetty went on a five-point run to lead 11-10 at the interval of the first game. The Indians pulled away after the break taking a 15-10 and 17-11 lead. The Indians never looked in danger after that as they closed out the game 21-15.
The second seeds took the momentum into the second game taking an 11-8 lead at the break. At the beginning of the second game, Shetty required treatment on his right knee but did not show any signs of struggle.
This time, however, it was Carnando and Marthin who came out flying after the break winning six points on the trot. Rankireddy and Shetty chipped at the lead and levelled the score at 17-17. The two pairs exchanged the lead before Carnando and Marthin won the game 21-19 to force a decider.
The third game was a one-sided affair as the Indians blew their Indonesian opponents away to book their place in the quarter-finals with a 21-15, 19-21, 21-9 win.
In the other men’s singles round of 16 match, 11th seed Lakshya Sen bowed out after a tough three-game loss to third seed Kunlavut Vitidsarn of Thailand.
Vitidsarn started the match strongly as he barely gave Sen any errors to exploit taking the first game 21-14. Sen took his time in the second game but took off with seven straight points to lead 11-4 at the break.
The Thai player cut down on Sen’s lead but the Indian did enough to clinch the game 21-16 and force a decider. Sen had never beaten Vitidsarn after being down a game and it was an even start to the decider with both player neck-and-neck in the opening exchanges.
In a finely-balanced game which could have gone either way, Vitidsarn crucially went on a four-point run to lead 13-9. Sen tried to fight back but the Thai third seed ended the match with six consecutive points to seal his place in the quarter-finals.
The women’s doubles pair of Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand bowed out in the third round after losing to top seeds Cheng Qing Chen and Jia Yi Fan 21-14, 21-9.
Treesa and Gayatri, seeded 15th in the women’s doubles draw, went into their third round match as underdogs against the defending champions Cheng and Jia. The Chinese pair had beaten Treesa and Gayatri in straight games in their only previous meeting.
The Indians started strongly taking a 6-2 lead in the opening game. But it didn’t take long for the experienced Chinese pair to exert their dominance. Cheng and Jia took the lead as Treesa and Gayatri struggled to read their opponents’ serves. The Chinese pair took the first game 21-14.
Cheng and Jia forced the issue in the second game leading right from the start and never letting go. The Indians played well but up against the experienced Tokyo Olympics silver medallists, it just wasn’t enough as Cheng and Jia booked their place in the quarter-finals after winning the second game 21-9.